View Full Version : Need Help with Mussels

02-20-2013, 01:36 AM
I replicated a mussel dish I really liked but the mussels were full of grit.
I scrubbed them, de-bearded them (pulling the beards straight out) steamed them and added my sauce.
Am I missing some step or should I buy mussels somewhere else?
Home cook with no mussel experience.


02-20-2013, 01:39 AM
Run them under cold water for awhile. The mussels will open up a bit and release the grit.

02-20-2013, 01:46 AM
Gotta purge em a bit.

02-20-2013, 04:10 AM
Yeah, we cover them in a bowl of cold water. I can't recall for exactly how long, but I'd say more than an hour. Then lift them out.

02-20-2013, 04:18 AM
what they said. =D

i always liked cooking them a bit in some saffron and white wine, and a tiny bit of chicken stock with some fennel / dill.... yum yum.

02-20-2013, 04:48 AM
Might try adding some flour and salt to the water when purging.

02-20-2013, 08:02 AM
Thanks, I'll try purging


02-20-2013, 11:43 AM
we always would put them in a bowl with tons of ice and some salt and run water over them while we cleaned them and they will usually open a tad and flush out.

02-20-2013, 01:32 PM
i buy farmed mussels. they grow them on ropes hanging above the bottom. i rarely have issues with grit. i just rinse them off, brush off the stubborn stuff and yank out any beards i encounter.

02-20-2013, 09:40 PM
salt water, we do it with clams also.

02-22-2013, 01:00 AM
+1 to purging.

Actually, I purge 3 times. Once with plain tap water to rinse them off let them sit in the water for about 20 mins, then drain the water, add fresh and also add some semolina (corn meal) to the water. Not a lot, like maybe a tablespoon. The mussles (live ones) mistake the semolina for sand and purge out the sand they have in their mouths and suck in the semolina. Let them soak in that for another 20 mins then drain and rinse them off. Soak in ice water for another 20 mins.

02-22-2013, 01:49 AM
Careful, fresh water will kill the mussels if left under too long. I use salt water just to be safe.

02-22-2013, 01:58 AM
Icy salt water...

02-22-2013, 01:02 PM
what they said. =D

i always liked cooking them a bit in some saffron and white wine, and a tiny bit of chicken stock with some fennel / dill.... yum yum.

+1 to this. This with a touch of cream is pretty fantastic too.

02-22-2013, 01:06 PM
the cream sounds like a plan!

02-22-2013, 03:24 PM
Careful, fresh water will kill the mussels if left under too long.


I only soaked fresh mussels and clams in fresh water for no more than a couple of minutes when I used to sell them to purge them, or get rid of off smells.

In my experience, one of the most important things is to check where they come from. Prince Edward Island (PEI) is one of the largest farming areas for mussels and most are farmed above ground, so the amount of grit is nominal. Mussels from Washington are generally farmed this way from what I understand. Also, good shellfish farms basically purge their shellfish before selling. They'll keep live shellfish in large tanks with flowing salt water to clean out the shellfish before sale.

But, also pay attention to weather patterns. If you buy mussels, even farmed ones, that were harvested after a major storm, they could be a little gritty because of all of the water, silt, sand that's churned up.

I know it's kind of a lot of work to think about these things, but this will help you purchase shellfish that's got less grit. Otherwise, just eat them and be prepared to have some gritty mussels occasionally.

02-22-2013, 04:17 PM
Make sure you're inspecting each mussel to ensure you're only cooking live ones. You'll sometimes encounter dead mussels that are still closed, but will sound hollow when tapped with another shell. These dead, closed shells can have sand in them, but upon cursory inspection seem to be fine because theyre not open. More often this happens with clams, but you'll see it in mussels as well, but infrequently with rope cultured or buchot mussels, as others already mentioned.

02-23-2013, 11:51 AM
I'm pretty crazy about grilled mussels -- have a hot saucier with butter/garlic/white wine on the side, and throw them whole on the grill. As they open, toss with the butter, add a little parsley, and gorge. Wood smoke does wonders for them.

02-25-2013, 09:47 PM
Salt water purge for a few minutes agitate rinse over and over